We like to think we have a decent idea of what type of offseason the New York Jets will have. However, every year there are a few outside the box moves from every team in the NFL. Those moves can be new additions, decisions to part ways with certain players or an unexpected strategy throughout draft weekend.
Last year, trading for Brandon Marshall headlined this type of move for the Jets. To a lesser degree, selecting Leonard Williams, adding both Stevan Ridley and Zac Stacy, bringing back Willie Colon to start and parting ways with Oday Aboushi also could be categorized here. Internal roster moves can also be “unexpected,” like moving Eric Decker to the slot full time while simultaneously removing Jeremy Kerley from the offense or putting Quincy Enunwa at H-Back and utilizing him as a full time player.
Without drifting into the realms of insanity, let’s take a crack at 12 “unexpected” moves the Jets could make before they open the 2016 season next September…
1. A “Big” Move At Running Back – Instead of focusing on bringing Bilal Powell back, gauging how much Chris Ivory is going to get in the open market and targeting an early round running back, the Jets push their chips in for Matt Forte or potentially soon to be cut Arian Foster. If it is Forte, who is the superior option of the two, the Jets probably let both Powell and Ivory walk, have Zac Stacy as the temporary backup and then add another piece in the NFL Draft. Paying big money for a 30 year old running back would be a “we think we can be Super Bowl contenders in 2016” type move.
2. The High Upside Backup/Long Term Option – After bringing Ryan Fitzpatrick back and recognizing they are not going get a quarterback they want at number 20, the Jets decide to take a flier on Robert Griffin III when he is released. RG III is 15 months older than Bryce Petty (and 3 months older than Geno Smith), is a former top two pick with 40 TDs to 23 INTs, a career 64 completion percentage and 1,480 rushing yards and 8 TDs to boot. He could compete with Fitzpatrick in camp and be a much more intriguing option to come off the bench if Fitzpatrick struggles, than Petty or Smith and has more long term potential than both of them. The price tag on Griffin III shouldn’t be exorbitant considering the past year or so. There will likely be a competitive market for him though.
3. The “Franchise QB” Move – The Jets fall in love with Jared Goff, Carson Wentz or Paxton Lynch and aggressively go get one of them in the NFL Draft. This likely would require a trade up and signal this regime has a clear cut hand picked quarterback of the future. If Fitzpatrick struggles the calls for the rookie would come loud and early.
4. The “Cut Bait” – The Jets look to trade one of the young pieces from the previous regime or outright release one or more of them before the season starts. This could be Jace Amaro, Dee Milliner, Geno Smith or Dexter McDougle. The trade market for any of these players would be limited but all will be fighting for any type of significant role in 2016 for the Jets. It is probably far too premature to write off Amaro in particular as a contributor.
5. “Out With The Old” – Instead of working on a restructured deal, the Jets outright cut D’Brickashaw Ferguson or he opts for retirement. This frees up a nice chunk of cap space but leaves a gaping hole at one of the most critical positions in football. The Jets aggressively address offensive line early in the NFL Draft and are also active in both the free agent and trade market. Another potential unexpected veteran release if the Jets are adamant on opening more cap flexibility? Nick Folk.
6. The “Risk” – Former Cardinals linebacker Daryl Washington finds his way to reinstatement and the Jets bring him over to start at inside linebacker next to David Harris. They still keep Erin Henderson as insurance but gamble that Washington can stay out of trouble and regain his form from before his suspension. The Jets could also look at taking a risk with tackle Ryan Clady and hoping he can stay healthy.
7. The “Money Shuffle” – The Jets decide they do not want to move forward heavily investing in their defensive line and allow Damon Harrison to walk along with trading Muhammad Wilkerson post franchise tag. For next year, the Jets roll with Sheldon Richardson, Leonard Williams and utilize an early draft pick to help fill the void. With the freed up money and extra picks from a Wilkerson trade, the Jets aggressively address their needs at offensive line, linebacker, running back and tight end.
8. The “Stand Pat” – The Jets stand pat with their current five offensive line starters, only making depth additions with low cost free agents and mid round draft picks. Internally they hope Brent Qvale and Jarvis Harrison can push Breno Giacomini and Brian Winters for playing time, respectively.
9. The “Stand Pat” Part 2 – There isn’t as high of a demand for Chris Ivory as expected so the Jets manage to bring back both him and Bilal Powell. They open the season with Ivory, Powell and Zac Stacy as their top three running backs, just like last season after not addressing running back in the draft.
10. “Need For Speed” Defensive Edition – Hellbent on improving the speed of their defense, the Jets limit their spends offensively, trade up for Noah Spence and sign Bruce Irvin in free agency. They also target another safety earlier than expected draft weekend.
11. “Need For Speed” Offensive Edition – Hellbent on improving the speed of their offense and special teams, the Jets limit their spends defensively and make aggressive moves for both Lamar Miller at running back and Travis Benjamin at receiver/returner in free agency. They also upgrade offensive tackle in the first round of the draft.
12. “Clean House” – The Jets part ways with Jeff Cumberland, Kellen Davis, Zach Sudfeld, Jace Amaro and Wes Saxton before the season opens. They decide to roll with Quincy Enunwa, a veteran blocker like Jermaine Gresham and then a draft a tight end in the later rounds.
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